Reviewed by: Ken James
Read what the bible has to say about The Return of Christ: Matthew 24:27, 29-31, 34, 36-44 | John 14:1-4 | Acts 1:11 | I Corinthians 15:51-57 | I Thessalonians 4:13-18 | I Timothy 4:1-3 | II Timothy 3:1-5, 4:1-8 | Titus 2:13 | II Peter 3:3-13 | the books of Daniel and Revelation
|Featuring:||Kirk Cameron, Chelsea Noble, Clarence Gilyard, Brad Johnson, Gordon Currie, Janaya Stephens, Colin Fox|
|Producer:||Peter and Paul Lalonde, Joe Goodman, Bobby Neutz, Ralph Winter|
|Distributor:||Cloud Ten Pictures|
Visual art has always captured my attention. Virtually any medium can be used to express deep emotions and evoke the senses. Growing up in a Christian home, I remember a circa-1970s painting that hung on our basement wall. In it Jesus was the focal point, high in the sky in a white robe with arms outstretched. Peace reigned in the spiritual bodies of Christians that had “died and gone before” as their bodies were being caught up in the air. Peace too for Christians still alive, meeting the long awaited bridegroom of the church. But for those left behind, it was pandemonium: grizzly auto accidents and complete chaos.
Without a doubt, the future events of The Rapture and Great Tribulation are immensely popular with Christian film producers. The 70’s and early 80s brought us Mark IV’s classics “A Thief in the Night,” “A Distant Thunder,” “Image of the Beast” and “The Prodigal Planet.” In 1981, there was “Early Warning” and “Years of the Beast.” In the 90’s “Future Tense” (1990), then years later “The Gathering,” “End of the Harvest”, and “The Moment After.” Cloud Ten Pictures hit the CBA bestseller list with their releases “Apocalypse,” “Revelation” and “Tribulation.” TBN’s “The Omega Code” finished out 1999 with a surprisingly strong box-office presence.
Kirk Cameron as Cameron “Buck” Williams
Brad Johnson as Rayford Steele
Janaya Stephens as Chloe Steele
Clarence Gilyard as Pastor Bruce Barnes
Chelsea Noble as Hattie Durham
Gordon Currie as Nicolae
Is there a market for this? Definitely. The producers behind “Left Behind” know it and are committed to getting that message to Hollywood. The Lalonde brothers (one of whom became a Christian due to an evangelistic film) have spent an unprecedented 17.4 million dollars on the film version of Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins runaway best seller Left Behind. Fans of the book may have mixed feelings. While the plot, atmosphere and most details of the book remain unchanged, there are some differences between the book and film. But keep in mind the fact that there is simply no way of putting a 468-page book intact into a 90-minute film without deletions and alterations.
The story of “Left Behind” focuses on Cameron “Buck” Williams (Kirk Cameron of TV’s “Growing Pains” fame), a world renowned TV reporter who, while on location in Israel to interview Dr. Chaim Rosenzweig (Colin Fox) about his new food growth formula, witnesses the miraculous decimation of Israel’s enemy as it attacks from the air. As if that was not enough of an enigma, the world is thrown into upheaval when millions worldwide suddenly vanish. Airline pilot Rayford Steele (Brad Johnson) and stewardess Hattie Durham (Kirk’s real-life wife Chelsea Noble) find many disappearances onboard their jet.
Back at home, Rayford’s wife and son are among those missing, while his daughter Chloe (newcomer Janaya Stephens) is left behind. Pastor Bruce Barnes (Clarence Gilyard of “Walker, Texas Ranger”) finds himself remaining on earth, facing the harsh reality that knowing of Christ and believing in Him are two separate things. Bruce, Rayford, Chloe and Buck all place their faith in Christ and become committed to reaching others with the truth, while attempting to stand up against the evil plans of the antichrist, world leader Nicolae Carpathia (Gordon Currie). Unfortunately, Hattie, like millions of others on the globe, is deceived by Carpathia. Believing him to be the answer to world peace, she eagerly joins him as his personal assistant.
If compared to other theatrical or television releases, “Left Behind” is outstandingly clean. With an audience of conservative Christians, content that may be offensive includes Buck drinking beer in one scene, plus one instance where he finds a friend murdered and exclaims “oh God” (both instances before becoming a follower of Christ). Some of the minor characters smoke, and there is a hint of marital unfaithfulness as the married Rayford flirts with Hattie during a flight. There is some bad attitudes displayed by the evil characters, and some violence is present (the most graphic being a bullet hole head wound) and other scenes of blood due to automobile accident scenes.
Without a doubt, “Left Behind” is well worth your time. The acting and directing are top quality. Both as entertainment and as a catalyst for spiritual truth, it delivers! The producers were so committed to creating an effective tool for the gospel that they were not willing to have Hollywood mess this one up; it’s just too important. The potential outreach of “Left Behind” is astounding! Compared to other Christian rapture films, the quality is without equal, with an embarrassment factor of zero. While the gospel is clear, the message is best taught through Christians who could use this film as a discussion starter. There is no invitation at the end, as in films from Billy Graham. Christians should be prepared to field questions and guide people to the truth. Brush up on what the bible says about the the return of Christ (info included below).
The film’s (www.leftbehind-themovie.com) official Web site sums it up well: “In this classic X-Files type drama where believers and non-believers are constantly being challenged by science and unexplained preternatural events, hearts, lives and intrigue all lie in the balance.”
No matter what your religious beliefs, there is only one truth. Where will you be spiritually when Christ returns to rapture His church?